Daily Archives

8 Articles

Posts

Christopher Lara response to “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?”, By James Baldwin

Posted by Christopher Lara on

In “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” written by James Baldwin, he provides his perspective on what language truly represents. In James Baldwin’s op-ed, he states, “it goes without saying, that language is a political instrument, means, & proof of power”, conveying the idea that language brings people together. I believe he is trying to say that although there are different languages and different variations speaking all around the world, people share a common ground in understanding one another at a certain point. Baldwin says,  “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances”, and this is exactly how and why Black English was formed. Black English was formed under historical events which occurred in America, which took part into developing this form of language. For example, he mentions that the white man never meant to teach the black man, the white man just needed them to understand them for the sole purpose of serving them. Black English is the creation of black diaspora. Another concept James Baldwin brings up in his writing is that language can be used not just be used for communication, but to classify people. It reveals the private identify of an individual as Baldwin states, and it can be used to identify people’s background, salary, school, etc.

In general, I was most intrigued by James Baldwin’s writing as a whole. As I read this, I felt the anger his words conveyed and you can really notice the emotion throughout the writing. He was angry at the fact that the white people did not want to accept Black English. He mentions that the white man never really intended to teach the black man, but only for the purpose of the black man being able to understand and serve the whites.

Posts

James Baldwin’s op-ed “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me,

Posted by Bryan Nunez on

 James Baldwin’s op-ed “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is? It was something that I was not expecting and that many people should read it if they haven’t. Once I began to read, I felt myself agreeing with James Baldwin and understanding his way of thinking and  understanding of African American culture in America. Baldwin clarifies how the production of a language  “ comes into existence by means of necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey”  (Baldwin 2). The making of Black English is a prime examples of having to adapt to your surrounding. As per Baldwin, the power that drove the making of the presence of Black English was the noteworthy language something that squares or quits something between slaves brought into the U.S. Since they came for originating from an assortment of African clans and countries, they were not able successfully speak with one another so as to keep up a network and endure. According to Baldwin “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.) A Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles;”  this is showing how you can live in the same area but you can speak a whole different languages from the person living in the next town over. I interpret black English as a way for people from Africa  that have different languages to have a way to communicate to each other.

One thing that stood out was “The brutal truth is that the bulk of white people in American never had any interest in educating black people, except as this could serve white purposes”(Baldwin 3) . It show how they  were not being taught enough English to serve the white. Baldwin gave me a different point of view of black English.

Posts

Julian Fontanez- James Baldwin article

Posted by Julian Fontanez on

In the article “ If Black Isn’t a Language, Then tell me, What is? “ by James Baldwin states that people change there language in a way for people to understand each other depending on the circumstances. For example, in the article the example the author uses is “ Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other’s language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world’s history, had been able to speak to each other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. “  The men spoke different languages/dialect  and they could not  understand one another. As time went on the slaves formed a black church and they started to come together to create a black English. Changing the language is a way to adapt, it can lead to a positive thing or fatal thing.  Now I also believe that the author is saying that sometimes people take some things from another language for example, the white people take some ideas from the black people, the black people won’t get credit for it. As the author say’s “ white Americans would sound like if there had never been any black people in the United States, but they would not sound the way they sound. “  if it wasn’t for the black people  they wouldn’t act a certain way because the white people would not do it unless it was already done and said.

 

 

What interested me about this was when the author says “ Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other’s language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world’s history, had been able to speak to each other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did.“ this interested me because I am pretty sure not too many people realized (including myself) that those prisoners did not speak the same language. If you think about it if they did speak the same language would slavery have ended faster? What would the course of history be like because if they did make a

Posts

Response:

Posted by Jeffery Rivas on

In James Baldwin’s  “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” illustrates how language is not just used for communication but it can also be used to classify someone from a different background or race. For instance, Baldwin states, “Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker” (1). Baldwin is trying to say that as soon as someone says something, the listener is already making an assumption about the speaker’s race, ethnicity, etc. In addition, he states, “A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey” (2). Black English came as a means for African Americans to understand each other during their times of prejudice. To add on, he states, “There was a moment, in time, and in this place, when my brother, or my mother, or my father, or my sister, had to convey to me, for example, the danger in which I was standing from the white man standing just behind me, and to convey this with a speed, and in a language, that the white man could not possibly understand, and that, indeed, he cannot understand, until today”(2).  Black English was used amongst African American’s and only them.

One thing I found interesting was “It may very well be that both the child, and his elder, have concluded that they have nothing whatever to learn from the people of a country that has managed to learn so little” (3).  My interpretation of this quote is that Black English does not seem very interesting to the people of America as they seem to think it is appropriate in an academic setting,

Posts

Ruben Genao – “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin – Response

Posted by Ruben Genao on

In “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?”, James Baldwin explains the importance of language and how language is not exclusively for communication, it can be used to classify people with different social backgrounds and class, making it a tool to judge people based on their accents. Baldwin writes “There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous, even fatal. Or, one may speak the same language, but in such a way that one’s antecedents are revealed, or (one hopes) hidden. This is true in France, and is absolutely true in England: The range (and reign) of accents on that damp little island make England coherent for the English and totally incomprehensible for everyone else. To open your mouth in England is (if I may use black English) to “put your business in the street”: You have confessed your parents, your youth, your school, your salary, your self-esteem, and, alas, your future”. Baldwin also explains the importance of language by saying the white rule over slaves would never have lasted as long as it did if the slaves didn’t have a language barrier, he states “A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey”. Black English came into existence because of the dispersion of black people from different tribes, its creation helped the slaves to form a community and to combat tough times.

What stood out to me the most was when Baldwin said “A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey” This sentence makes me think of human history relating to the river valley civilizations and how language was a necessity in order to survive in their environment, leading to slavery in the United States and how Black English only came to existence because of the need to communicate that came with the adversity of slavery.

Posts

Ali Husain – “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin – Response

Posted by Ali Husain on

In “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?”, James Baldwin states how language is important and how it has evolved over time. Baldwin writes “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate”(Baldwin 1).In other words languages are made to be able to converse our ideas, felling and concerns with one another. With difficult experiences and difficulties people evolve their language. An example of this would be when Baldwin mentions, “ Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other’s language . . . and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed” (Baldwin 6). The slaves were not all taken from one tribe but in fact from many different tribes. All tribes had different ways of communicating, so this created a language barrier between slaves. To amend this problem they created Black English. In hopes of increasing the rate of survival as well as building a community.

One quote that caught my eye was, “A Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles; neither sounds very much like a man living in Quebec; . . . although the “common” language of all these areas is French”(Baldwin 1). All these countries or cities speak the same language which is French but yet none for the most part comprehend what the other is trying to say. This is because they all have different characteristics which allow them to form different identities. Not only is this true with french but other languages as well. For instance how different dialects of spanish are spoken in different countries. When the latin Americans speak spanish the people who speak castilian Spanish can not perceive what they are saying. The people who speak Andalusian spanish can not perceive the Mexican or caribbean spanish.

Posts

Christopher Collaguazo – “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin – Response — Classic Editor

Posted by Christopher Collaguazo on

After reading “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin, he talks about his definition and point of view of what language is. One of his main points was that language is a political instrument, he says “It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity”(Baldwin). This conveys how language defines who one is based on the larger public or communal identity. In his definition of language, he views it as a way for a group to be allowed to define and express who they are based on other groups perspective of them. For example, he mentions “A Frenchman living in Paris speaks a subtly and crucially different language from that of the man living in Marseilles,” this shows how these two different people living in different parts of France are viewed differently due to their different language despite of the common language in France which is French. Another main point of James Baldwin is when he talks about the differentiation between a language and a dialect. He supports this by saying “A people at the center of the Western world, and in the midst of so hostile a population, has not endured and transcended by means of what is patronizingly called a “dialect”(Baldwin). He defines a dialect as a simply version of a language that white people talk. He adds on by saying how black people back in slavery time deserved more than a simple version of the white language.

 

One interesting idea that stood out to me was when James Baldwin says “There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language could be dangerous”(Baldwin). An example of this is when the attack of 9/11 happened, there were was a lot of hatred towards Muslims. People of the United States believed that any Muslim that lived in the U.S. were the ones to blame but in reality the main one to blame was the group of ISIS. Also, people became very uncomfortable near any muslim who spoke in their language and this turned into danger for Muslim people because many people of the U.S. wanted to separate themselves from the Middle East. This proves how James Baldwin saying that a certain language could be dangerous because any Muslim, Indian, or Pakistan would be treated unfairly, get the cops on them, and even get violently attacked by an American        

 

Posts

“If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin – Response

Posted by Tyara De Jesus on

“If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” By James Baldwin, goes into depth of what a language is and what it represents. Baldwin makes a bold statement that he wasn’t trying to specifically argue about the language but the role languages play. He states “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.)”. Languages come to life to be able to communicate and describe our thoughts and emotions to one another. Being put into situations where we don’t understand what is being said, we feel lost, almost like being under water. He says that language is also power and that language can be dangerous. He comes to say that it can reveal ones private identity, hidden hopes and can either disconnect or connect one to the community. Language gives us power we can mistreat, it can allow us to reveal things that are better undiscovered. In his writing what caught my eye is when he says, “ Now, I do not know what white Americans would sound like if there had never been any black people in the United States, but they would not sound the way they sound. Jazz, for example, is a very specific sexual term, as in jazz me, baby, but white people purified it into the Jazz Age.”. I agreed when he says this. Black people have influenced and continue to influence many people of different races, such as, how we speak, dress, etc. In this quote he is also saying that they made a foundation in which white people tried to make their own. He also states “The brutal truth is that the bulk of white people in American never had any interest in educating black people, except as this could serve white purposes.”.  He feels that the only reason the white people taught the black people their language was so they can be slaves. It would be easier to command and push someone around if they understand your orders. In saying this he makes a point that a child can’t be taught by someone who doesn’t have the right intentions with him.

A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.”. This part caught my attention. It made me think about where languages even came from. He mentions in his writing how the whites educated blacks for the wrong intentions. It was brutal, they were only taught how to communicate with whites, to be taken advantage of. We use languages as a form of communication, we give words meanings, we give words placements, such as bad or good. We put words into categories. We convey with words what we want, whether it is good or bad. We hurt people with our words. And we make languages to separate one another, and make it known we are all not the same.

css.php
Skip to toolbar